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Volume 5 Number 2 October 1, 2011
The road to success is not doing one thing 100 percent better, but doing 100 things 0ne percent better.


Stepping-out at different angles creates different shots.



Center Shots      Outside Shoots
Sweep Shot   Boyer Shot
Backhand Shot    Angled Mann Shot
Humbert Left Post Shot “Full Turn”    Side Arm Skip Shot 
Humbert Right Post Shot “Half Turn”    Udovicic Shot
Elliot Shot   Tony Shot 

The angle of the kick is one of the determining factors in throwing the ball.  For the center taking a shot with the back to the goal, or an outside shooter, facing the goal; the shooter’s leg angle matters.  In fact, the leg angle determines whether or not the ball scores.  Unfortunately, the angle of the shooter’s right leg in shooting is ignored by coaches and by players.  The legs are the player.  The leg angle is the shot.  The player uses a number of kicking styles to get down the pool, set up as a center at 2-meters or as an outside shooter at 7-meters. 

The player’s legs are horizontal and flutter kicking in the freestyle swim down the pool, vertical and rotating on the eggbeater kick in the frontcourt and scissor kicking for the finishing kick to shoot the ball. Besides the scissor kick and its many variations, there is also the step-out kick.  The step-out kick is used by the center for every shot, such as the sweep shot and backhand.  The outside shooter to improve the angle, and shoot around a guard or a goalie, also uses the step-out kick.  The step-out kick is not an eggbeater kick nor is it is a scissor type kick.  The step-out kick is an entirely different kick used for specific shots. 



There are five step-out angles the shooter uses to takes shots as a center or as an outside shooter.  In the above illustration, Figure 1, the sweep shot has a black line that is “I” shaped to indicate the center steps straight out.  In the backhand, the center steps-out at a 45-degree angle indicated by the slanted line.  The Boyer shot is a lateral movement shot shown by the horizontal black line.  The Mann shot has a less deeply slanted line to indicate a 30-degree step-out. And the Tony shot is “L” shaped for a step-out and then a straight back kick.  For the center and the outside shooter, the angle of the step-out determines whether the shot scores or misses the goal (see Fig. 1).



The step-out right leg motion has the shooter take a small step with a high knee in a specific direction to assist in shooting the ball.  The step-out is not a gigantic lunge.  The step-out right leg motion is used in seven shots.  Most commonly, the step-out is used by a center to get separation from the guard and shoot the ball. As one can see from the diagram, the shooter changes the step-out angle five times for five different shots.  In each shot, the angle of the leg kick is different, making a distinct shot each time the ball is thrown.  In the 2-meter sweep and backhand shots, the angle of the right leg step-out is at two different angles, which creates two distinct shots, and places the ball in a opposite corners.  The Humbert LP full turn shot is thrown from the left post; the Humbert RP half turn shot is thrown from the right post, both at a different 45-degree angle. In the five outside shots, the step-out motion is used at three different leg angles with variations of the lateral movement shot: the Boyer, the Mann shot, the side arm skip shot, Udovicic shot and the step-out straight back shot.  The last shot is a dual leg kick shot with a step-out kick and a straight back kick combined into one shot (see Fig. 2). 




In the sweep shot, the center steps-out straight with the right leg in a medium sized “step” without lunging and shoots.  As the center steps-out to the ball, his or her left shoulder pushes against the center-guard’s sternum for a push off to create separation.  Half of the left shoulder push off involves stepping-out to the ball.  The other half of the step-out involves stepping-out to shoot the ball.  The center steps-out straight ahead with the ball above the right foot.  When the center angles the right leg towards the left corner, the sweep shot misses the cage.  When the center steps-out from the center of the goal, his or her arm travels 90-degrees and 36-inches (90-cm) and releases the ball.  If the center has stepped-out at a 45-degree angle, for example, the right arm travels the same 36-inches and the hand releases the ball after traveling 90-degrees but the ball hits the wall (see Hole Shots Part I).  It is not enough for the 2-meter player to be located in center or on the left post—the leg angle has to be correct. Different leg angles cause different shooting results. The leg angle is the shot.  The center has to know the angle of the sweep shot to score (see Figs. 3, 4).



The center steps-out to the right at a 45-degree angle and shoots a backhand shot at the left corner of the goal.  By the center stepping-out at a 45-degree angle, he or she is positioning the right elbow so it is aligned with the left corner of the goal.  Wherever the elbow points the ball, follows (see Hole Shots Part II).  Point the elbow at the left corner and the ball goes in the left corner.  The backhand is aimed by the shooter’s right elbow and not by the left foot.  The left hand pulls to step-out, pushes down to lift the ball and pulls to rotate the body for the shot (see Fig. 5).



The Humbert full turn center sets up on the left post, steps-out to the left at 45-degrees, turns 180-degrees (a full turn) and shoots cross-cage at the lower right corner of the goal.  The goalie sees the extreme location of the center, assumes that the shot is a backhand.  The goalie is out of position.  The center spins faces-the-goal and shoots cross-cage.  As the center steps-out and turns to face the goal the shooter’s left foot points at the right corner of the goal (see Hole Shots Part III). The center’s left hand makes a 180-degree sweep around the body to rotate the Humbert shooter’s body (see Fig. 6).



The center sets up near the right post, steps-out towards the right corner at a 45-degree angle, turns 45-degrees  (a “half turn”) and shoots the ball at the right corner of the goal.  The goalie is expecting a backhand shot to the left corner with the center positioned to the extreme right (see Hole Shots Part IV). The Humbert half turn shot is a popular shot for women, because there is less distance to rotate and their wider hips create less drag. The left hand pulls back and around to assist in rotating the center’s body (see Fig.7).



In the Elliott shot, the center steps-out sideways towards the right corner of the goal at a horizontal angle, the guard follows the center’s lateral movement to the right, and sets up to block the right corner shot.  Then the shooter uses a straight back kick to reverse directions, which moves the body to the left for an overhand shot at the left corner.  The left foot leads and points at the goal to aim the ball as the shot is taken.  The left hand pushes sideways on the step-out and pulls on the push back kick (see Fig. 8). 



The step-out kick is used in a different manner by the shooter taking an outside shot. In the outside shot, the shooter is 7-meters away, facing the goal and the goalie can see the shot coming.  The step-out creates five different outside shots to use against the goalie and the guard: the Boyer, Mann, Side Arm Skip, Udovicic and Step-Out Straight Back shots. The outside shooter steps-out to set up the goalie and place the ball out of reach of the goalie’s hands by using lateral movement.  For example, the goalie expects a left corner shot from the left wing, but the ball is thrown at the right corner as the shooter steps-out (see Fig. 9).



The Boyer outside shot is a face-the-goal lateral movement step-out shot.  The previous center shots stepped-out straight ahead in the case of the sweep shot and 45-degrees to the right for the backhand.  The Boyer shot allows the shooter to improve his or her angle when above the left post or in the left wing by moving horizontally to create a cross-cage shot at the right corner.  The goalie sees the shooter at a bad angle, overplays the left goal post to block the left wing shot, and then sees the ball thrown into the right corner of the goal (see Fig. 10).

The Boyer shooter borrows the right leg step-out from the center and uses it for a lateral movement outside shot.  The Boyer shooter steps-out horizontally with the right foot pointing straight out (sideways inline with the shoulder).  The right leg step-out allows the shooter to move laterally and improve his or her angle.  The Boyer shot is taken from the left wing, above the left post and the point.  The arm angle is 45-degrees and a standard wrist snap is used.  The left wing shooter steps-out with the goalie on the left goal post and shoots around goalkeeper into the right corner of the goal.  The shooter’s left hand pushes away from the left hip.

Four different step-out leg positions are used to shoot at the left corner.  The Boyer shooter can shoot at the left corner of the goal when the right foot is forward.  The Mann shot uses the hard right foot snap-in to create the left corner shot; the Tony shot uses a straight back kick to shoot left; Udovicic uses a step-out into a lean-over shot to shoot at the left corner (see Skip Shots Part 3).


The Boyer is a difficult shot to teach because the player’s right leg steps-out sideways as does the right arm.  The shooter has trained to slap the scissoring legs together in adduction and not pull them apart in abduction (step-out).  In the standard overhand shot, the right arm and leg swing back behind the shoulder 24-inches or more (60-cm) to cock the ball.  The overhand cocking and acceleration stages are south and north. In the Boyer, the right arm and body is cocked to the left (east), and accelerates to the right (west).  When shooting, the Boyer shooter’s right arm never swings backward because all of the momentum and sideways movement is lost.  The swinging the arm back technique is an extremely difficult habit to break when changing from the overhand shot technique to a Boyer shot.  The Boyer wall push off drill is used to teach the lateral shot by having the player push off the wall with the forearm (not the hand) and step-out with the right arm high in the air and move the arm out over the shoulder. Add a ball, have the player push off the wall and shoot.  The main things for the coach to watch for is the right knee, which must be high on the step-out, the arm is cocked high and near the head and the right arm must not swing backwards when accelerating (see Fig. 11). 



The Mann shot is different than the Boyer shot in that it is an angled step-out at 30-degrees, snaps the right foot inward to shoot a ¾ arm position or side arm shot.  Stepping-up allows the shooter to move laterally, at an upward angle several meters by taking several angled step-outs (advancing the ball sideways and upward).   The Mann shooter used a ¾-quarter arm (45-degree arm position) that lowers to a side arm position and skims the ball.  Many times the ball will curve.  The shooter reads the goalie’s position and skims the ball to the right or left corner.  The Mann shot is taken from the left wing to the point position.  The angled step-out allows the shooter to use hip rotation by snapping the right foot inward, which greatly increases ball speed.  Snapping the right foot inward using a side arm creates a low corner skim shot.  The shooter releases the ball close to the water, and skims to the right or left, by strength of the shooter’s right foot snap-in.  A “soft” foot snap-in allows the shooter’s momentum to “push” the ball to the right corner with a mild curve.  A “hard” snap-in “pulls” the ball back to the left corner.   The left hand starts in front and pulls hard. Girls and women cannot take the standard Boyer shot with a horizontal step-out because of their weaker upper body.  However, they can shoot a Mann shot with its right foot snap-in and hip rotation (see Fig. 12). 



The side arm skip shot was simply a Mann shot with a skip shot added. The Europeans had learned how to tame the ball’s sidespin. The Mann shooter steps-out at a 30-degree angle, pinches the ball in his or her hand, positions the right arm at 45-degree angle, lowers the arm near 90-degrees and releases the ball with a higher release point than a side arm.  A twist snap release has the shooter’s vertical hand turns inward and to the horizontal as the arm falls.  The ball hits the water with a rapid sidespin and instantly skips into the goal.  The skip point for the side-spinning ball is the goal line (Vertical to Horizontal Shots Part II). This close-to-the goal skip point is used because the side arm skip shot leaps straight up into the air at a 75-degree angle.  If 2-meter skip point or 3-meter skip point is used, the side arm shot skips the ball 3-meters over the top of the goal (see Figs. 13, 14). 


There are three factors in controlling the new side arm skip shot: the 30-degree step-out leg angle, the 45-degree to 90-degree lateral arm swing motion and the twist snap release.  These three factors make the new side arm skip shot into a controllable shot.  In Figure 14, there are five release point heights where the shooter’s hand releases the ball.  The overhand skip shot is released at a height of 30-inches to 50-inches (75-125-cm).  The Boyer angles the arm at 45-degrees in a ¾-arm position and releases the ball at the high corner.  The side arm skip shot releases the ball as the arm swings down with a twist snap occurring between the Boyer and side arm release positions.  The Mann side arm skim shot releases the ball with the hand close to the water so the ball skims (see Fig. 14).



Vanja Udovicic, considered the greatest shooter in the world, invented a shot last year that combined the step-out, side arm fake and the lean–over shot all into one shot.  The Udovicic shot used multiple right leg step-outs, multiple side arm fakes and a single left leg step-out into a lean-over shot.  In the 6-on-5 situation from the righthander’s position (US 1-spot, EU 5-spot), Udovicic used an angled Mann type shot and stepped-out at a 30-degree angle.  He then quickly side armed faked the ball four times combined with rapid four step-out kicks.  The step-out movement creates each lateral fake.  The step-out kick changes from a slight lunge to a bicycle-like kick that with and an up and down leg motion has no lateral movement.  The bicycle style step-out kick supports the shooter body during the fake.  Without multiple step-out bicycle kicks, and left hand pushes to the side, there are no lateral arm fakes (see Figs. 15, 16).

Udovicic’s technique is to side armed fake the guard four times.  The guard attacks him with the left hand up to block the apparent side arm right corner shot. At the same time, the goalie moves from the left corner toward the center of the cage to be in position to block the right corner shot.  Udovicic then reversed direction, stepped-out to the left with the left leg, and shot a lean-over shot at the open left corner.  The left hand repeatedly pushes with each fake and then pulls back to shoot the ball (see Horizontal and Vertical Shots Part II).




The Tony step-out straight back shot is a shot used from the righthander’s spot in the 6-on-5 (US 1-spot, EU 5-spot).  This is the same dual leg movement found in the Elliott center shot.  The technique is for the shooter to step-out horizontally from the 1-spot, use a straight back kick with the right leg and shoot at the left corner of the goal. Upon seeing the shooter’s step-out and lateral movement, the goalie jumps right.  The ball is then shot is at the left corner. The step-out motion itself is the fake—a body fake—instead of an arm fake.  The shooter’s left hand pushes water to the side on the step-out and pulls water back on the push kick (see Figs. 17, 18).

In conclusion, the coach and the player must recognize that the importance of the various right leg step-out angles.  There is a step-out leg position for every shot.  There are five step-out angles and ten different step-out shots for centers and outside shooters.  This is true of all of the step-out shots be it a backhand or a Boyer shot.  The coach and player have to realize that leg kick angles are critical to shooting.  The coach and player can no longer can be blind to what the legs are doing underwater.  The step-out angle is the shot

© Jim Solum Copyright 2011

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